Monday, December 31, 2007

DC Fatties: The Fattest Girl in Metropolis!

In the Silver Age of comics, DC Comics in general, and the Superman titles in particular, had a strange obsession with bizarre physical transformations. Dysmorphism was the order of the day, as covers showed our favorite heroes transformed into aliens, cavemen, babies, ant-heads, and giant-brained future men. When new ideas were hard to come by, the writers could always just turn their star fat. I can’t imagine that a cover depicting a grotesquely obese Superboy flying an equally distorted Lana Lang around in a phone booth with her enormous ass sticking out could have sold that well, but there were enough similar stories to prove that someone was buying them.

Obesity was treated with the same compassion and sensitivity a were womens issues in '60's DC comics, which is to say, badly.

So as you can imagine, "The Fattest Girl In Metropolis" from Lois Lane #5 is a double barrel blast of cruel gags at the expense of both women and the morbidly obese. As usual, Lois has gotten herself into a situation that only a traumatic physical mutation and a series of escalating public humiliations engineered without her knowledge or consent can solve:

“The Fattest Girl in Metropolis” begins as Lois is interviewing yet another in the endless parade of Crackpot scientists that showed up in comics so often back then. He’s touting an experimental growth ray, and naturally, immediately turns it on Lois , indiscriminately flooding the room with dangerous radiation:

Lois goes home, and when she wakes up the next morning is horrified to see that she has become hugely fat! Of course, her first thought is not of her health, but of Superman, whom she plans to avoid until the rays effects wear off. Wackiness ensues, as Lois has to go to a “Fat Girls Shoppe” to buy new clothes, and her day to day routine is hilariously upset as she desperately tries to avoid a seemingly omnipresent Superman:

Poor Lois tries to get in shape, but the arrival of a poorly-timed gift box of chocolates shakes her resolve:

I’ll spare you the scene of fat Lois, insensate on her apartment floor, surrounded by empty candy wrappers, emitting a contented and window-rattling belch.

Finally, the jig is up, as Lois’ secret shame is revealed to Superman in the most humiliating way imaginable:

Ha ha! Always a freakishly mutated bridesmaid, never Superman's bride. But fear not, Lois, it turns out Superman knew what was going on all along…because he arranged it. Yes, Superman once again humiliates and degrades one of his friends to collar a crook he should have been able to deal with in one panel. I think he just liked jerking his girlfriend around. Lois’ response to all this is all too predictable:

You get your eat on, girl. That internet guy was right, Superman is a dick. This story hasn’t aged too well, actually, as fat Lois now looks like an average American. Once again, comics point the way to the future, and the future looks puffy and winded.

Next: Haul your lard ass back to the keyboard as we continue our look at DC’s silver age fatties with “The Fat Boy of Metropolis”!

Friday, December 28, 2007

One More Mite

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for Batman #672 below!

I don't know why anybody is talking about that prodigal Spider-book, when the big news is over in Batman #672. Shot in the chest, heart failing, and a rogue sleeper Batman looming, a dying Batman scratches out a message in luminous paint: ZUR EN ARRH. An old friend/nusiance re-emerges from his strange, shrouded world. The roly-poly cartoon bufoon of yesteryear is gone, replaced with something new and altogether weirder:

BAT-MITE is back, baby. In case I havent made it clear, I am loving Grant Morrison's methodical and relentless reinvention and re-integration of the crazy '50s era Batman stuff, and the return of Bat-Mite is the latest twist. Apparently, Batman knows how to summon his unearthly ally, and brings him in for emergencies like imminent unexpected death. If anyone can make Bat-Mite work today, its Grant Morrison, and I can't wait to see his take on the Dark Mite.

Nightwatch is Ready For His Comeback

Guest Editorial by Marvel Comics' NIGHTWATCH

Hey, Comic Book lovers, remember me? That’s right, its your favorite Marvel superstar, NIGHTWATCH, back from the dead, and ready for action! I know you all mourned when I was seemingly killed during the unforgettable “Great Games” storyline in my pal Spider-Man’s books a few years back, but guess what? It turns out that Spider-Man’s marriage somehow led to my death, so I’m suddenly not dead, apparently. Marvel, Nightwatch is ready for his comeback!

Think about it, Marvel editors, Nightwatch could really shake up the post-civil war era Marvel Universe as the bold new hero, just back from the dead, who makes a defiant stand against Iron Man and the Superhero Registration Act. Or I could register, but always be clashing with the other superheroes because of their methods. Or I could show up in the Thunderbolts as the cynical newcomer Kevin Trench who makes sarcastic comments all the time and has a history with Venom! And then I turn out to be Nightwatch! Or I could have my own "Brand New Day" by reuniting with my old partner, Spidey! I’m sure my fans will recall the time I stood side-by-side with Spider-Man against Carnage and Venom during Maximum Carnage! Can you say sequel? The possibilities are endless for a character with my gravitas. Plus, I’m black, if that helps somehow.

I think that this gritty, edgy post-911 world America needs a tough, no-nonsense Avenger of the night like me more than ever before. I’ve got this wicked cool spiky armor and a flowing red cape, all of which kind of makes me look like Spawn. The kids are still into Spawn, right? Sure they are. And nanotech is cutting edge right now, so the way I look at it, I was ahead of my time. I don't want to keep harping on Thunderbolts, but I’m pretty sure Warren Ellis would want to get his hands on a superhero with nanotech armor. He seems to be interested in that sort of thing.

Or, and this is just a thought; I could be your guys answer to Batman. Come on, Marvel, You have the Sentry, and now you need a Batman guy. Don’t talk to me about Moon Knight, either; that psycho killer? Guy who hears voices? No, you need a stable professional. That said, I’m also willing to be substantially more violent than Moon Knight, if the MAX editor wants to give a call. Maybe the Ultimates need a new, mysterious masked loner on the team, or the Power Pack kids could team up with me for four issues of laughter and life-lessons. In fact, I could turn out to be a mutant, and would happily fill in any role on one of the X-teams, if it came to that.

Marvel, Nightwatch is ready and waiting for the call. I come complete with close ties to none other than the Amazing Spider-Man, as well as Venom, Carnage, Darkhawk, Warrant, Cardiac, and Morbius. I also come fully equipped with a rogues gallery, evil corporation, and supporting cast. Or, we can ditch them and start from scratch! Whatever works best for you. I’m waiting for your call Marvel editors. Nightwatch is ready for his comeback!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Secret Origin of Santa Claus

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kickin' Kwanzaa, Super-duper Saturnalia, Festive Festivus, etc, to you, dear readers, from Again With the Comics. If you don't celebrate anything, then happy Free Day Off. Regardless of our denomination, we all celebrate the Winter Solstice Holidays for one true reason: to beg God to please please please bring the Sun back.

This is it for AWtC in 2007, but we'll be back to idiocy as usual on January first. Here then, is my Christmas gift to you, internet chums:

Click pages to enlarge

"Jing Kal-El"
Script: Andy Merrill
Art: Roger Langridge
Story scanned from Bizarro World collection, DC Comics, 2005

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Last Defenders

Of all the things shown in the March Marvel solicits, I think I'm most excited about The Last Defenders. I really dig Joe Casey's quirky writing style, and I think he'll have some fun with these guys. When I was younger, I came up with my own Marvel superteam; the Avenging Champions consisted of The Sandman, Black Goliath, Doc Samson, Hellcat, and Mercurio, so I'm obviously a fan of oddball team lineups, and this is one oddball group. It helps that I also like all of the individual characters. At worst, I'm indifferent to Nighthawk. He's always been kind of a bland uptight square of a superhero, at least in the main Marvel continuity, but he may flourish under Casey. I probably own or have read 90% of Marvel's She-Hulk catalog, so I obviously like her. She-Hulk thrives in teams, and its been awhile since she's been on one. Colossus is an interesting choice. He's been hermetically sealed in the X-Men continuity for so long, I almost forgot about the big guy. (I religiously avoid the X-books.) I've mentioned before that I am much in favor of integrating the best X-Men into the main Marvel Universe, so I'm intrigued by his inclusion. Finally, I was just the other day rereading some of those Chuck Austen Avengers from a few years back, and remembering how much I liked the manic, wisecracking Blazing Skull. I may have a whole separate article in me about how Austen kind of got a bad rap, but suffice to say, I am delighted to see the Skull on this team, handled by this writer.

Here's some more information about The Last Defenders.

This is not a page from the Last Defenders. This is a page from Avengers #498.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Super-Villains of the Old West

Now, Ah’m sure that alla you young’uns have heard about the old West, an’ alla the lawlessness of the time. Billy the Kid, Pecos Bill and the Dalton gang were all a thorn in th’ side o’ citizens and lawmen across the young America, but they couldn’t hold a candle to the nations earliest SUPER-VILLAINS.

Lets mosey on down mem’ry lane fer a spell, and remember some a the Super-Villains of the Old West. Yup, there were low-down snakes aplenty back in them days, and some a’ them had extra powers and gimmicks, like DOCTOR DANGER and the INVISIBLE GUNMAN.

Speakin’ a low-down snakes, this fella here took ta callin’ himself THE RATTLER, before he threw down with the Rawhide Kid:

Ya may be familiar with the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, but did ya know there was a CIRCUS OF CRIME in the Old West?

Back then, th’ bar was lower fer bein’ a super-villain. The Kingpin had his own boomerang slinging Western counterpart in the FAT MAN:

There was a Red Raven in the 1940’s, but this birdman badman came first! Meet the RED RAVEN:

Meet Tomazooma’s grandpappy, the TERRIBLE TOTEM:

Before that li’l filly took the name from Mac Gargan, an’ even before Gargan himself used the name, the SCORPION was gunnin’ fer Kid Colt:

Lookin’ fer all the world like Doctor Doom, the IRON MASK was one of the worst of the frontier’s super-desperados:

Finally, there was a GOLIATH roamin’ the range long afore Hank Pym talked to his first ant:

There ya go. Ten o' the West's most wanted. All villains, an' all super.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review: Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!

NOTE: a copy of Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! was provided to Again With the Comics for this review.

In Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! ($24.95, Portfolio) Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams offers up his wit and wisdom on the world outside the workplace in a series of brief essays covering every subject from airport security to marriage. Most of these are in the vein of observational comedy, but Adams has some interesting thoughts about the nature of reality that kept me pondering for awhile after I closed the book. The book consists of Adams’ blog entries for the last couple of years, so expect the disconnectedness that that implies, but I got quite a few laughs out of his rambling. The cover letter suggested that I save this for a flight, which is great advice, since this is the sort of light, fun, and easy read that airline travel demands. Which is not to say it is slight. It may not change your life, but Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain! will provide some laughs, and maybe make you think a bit, too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chilling Tales of Poop

Horrificus: Hahaha! Pathetic mortal worm! You have fallen before the daemonic minions of darkness! For your mortal crimes you shall be hung by the neck until dead! So it is written in the Book of Evil, so wont it be!!! NOW! Prepare to be hung! HUNG TO FULFILL THE CURSE of the TOMB!!!


Hagatha: And I’LL clean up the poop!

Terrified Victim: EEEe... What!?! You-you’ll what?

Hagatha: Well, when we hang you, you’re going to poop yourself. And I’ll be right there to scoop it up and dispose of it properly. Hence the little shovel.

Horrificus: SILENCE!!! For Satan’s sake, Hagatha! You’re ruining the mood! FOOL! Your befoulment is the least of your worries!! FEAR INSTEAD FOR YOUR SOUL !!!!!!


Monday, December 10, 2007

One More Thought About One More Day

I'm not even going to speculate on the whole Mephisto thing in "One More Day", mostly because the story hasn't ended yet. But barring a last minute fake out, (something I highly doubt Marvel is organized enough to pull off) the Spider-Man books appear to be headed for a magic continuity reset, something unprecedented in Spider-Man’s long history. Apparently, Mephisto wants to trade Aunt May's life for the Parkers' marriage so he can feed on their pain somehow. That's pretty absurd, especially since "Brand New Day" seems poised to bring back the happy-go-lucky single Spider-Man. So what pain? Again, the story isn't over, so…reserving judgment.

Joe Quesada has been complaining about the Spider-marriage since he started as Editor-in-Chief at Marvel. Bringing J. Michael Straczynski on board the main Spidey title was one of the earliest things he put together, so I’m sure Quesada’s feelings weren’t unknown to him. JMS had plenty of time to build his themes, make his changes, and push his story forward to a logical conclusion that would undo the marriage. His recent public disavowal of OMD casts a whole new pall on the situation. He probably had a whole master plan to magic it away, which Editorial just steamrollered. A great deal of the JMS run was introducing mysticism, change, and general uncertainty into Spidey’s world. Thematically, magic wasn't out of place in the JMS run, so a magic history rewrite could make sense if it built on prior events. Rewrites and editorial micromanagement at Marvel are nothing new to anyone who knows the name John Harkness; I’m most specifically interested in what was interfered with.

One Straczynski tale involved some time traveling astral hi-jinx courtesy of Doctor Strange, with Spidey tracing his timeline and re fighting his greatest battles. At one point, Spider-Man is simultaneously re-living his origin and watching his future self’s last stand against the NYPD at Aunt May’s grave. Grim portents and cryptic statements abound, but the long and short of it is that this future Spider-Man is on the run for a murder, and he’s reached the end of the line. I can easily see "Back In Black" ending with the Death of the Kingpin, can’t you? Cue a yearlong fugitive Spider-Man story, a desperate last stand, and finally, a chance to set everything right. Thanks to magic somehow.

Another story saw Spidey helping Loki save a mortal daughter from a sorceress, and the trickster god ends up owing the web-head a favor or twenty. Here’s another potential magical out. I could see Spidey getting pushed so far by, say, Aunt May dying, to call on Loki for help. And Loki says he can fix everything by resetting the past, undoing the unmasking at its root. Peter thinks that Loki means to undo his public unmasking, but Loki is a trickster god, and reaches back to just before the Parker marriage for his time tweak, undoes that, and disappears, laughing his ass off. And somehow that saves Aunt May, restores status quo, and Joe Q can sleep again.

Or maybe everything was going to come full circle with Morlun initiating some sort of mystic Spider Totem powered reboot. I dunno. I’d be interested to know the whole story, but I doubt we ever will. All I know is that a regular reader paying attention could tell JMS was going somewhere with all this, and the path wasn’t leading to freakinMephisto. I don't get it, but whatever. In a few months we’ll all get that single, sleepin’ around, porn downloading Peter Parker we’ve apparently been desperately craving. It’s too bad; I liked the Spider-marriage.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gorilla Ranch Girls!

In GØDLAND #20, the unholy celestial Triad of Ed, Eeg-oh and Supra descend upon the city of Las Vegas, slaughtering everyone in sight, all to attract the notice of Adam Archer. Archer is painfully ineffective in this issue, showing up too late too stop any bloodshed, and was overwhelmed almost immediately. The three cosmic lunatics are closing in on Archer when who shows up to save his bacon but...




This brilliant, bizarre amalgamation of hookers and gorillas distills the creative essences of Frank Miller and Julius Schwartz and filters them through the timeless medium of naked ladies. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you....


Fate is not kind to these valiant simian ladies-of-the-night, as the demi-powerful Triad tear through their ranks. The hero of the title can't do much to save them and they fall in battle. Let these valiant but sensual defenders of Las Vegas not be forgotten. Let this entry attest to the courage, bravery, and foxiness of the...


Naked ladies with gorilla masks! They are...


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Herbie's Progressive Ruin

Congratulations to Mike Sterling, celebrating his fourth year of Progressive Ruin. That's four years daily for this unstoppable blogging machine, mind. I also wanted to point out his recent Herbie post. It perfectly demonstrates why Herbie is so great, and is also probably what reminded me of Herbie in the first place. If not for that, you might not have seen "Professor Flipdome's Screwy Machine!", so credit Mike for inspiration.

Speaking of Herbie, I wanted to point out these panels from that story:

That's pretty deep for a "mere" comedy book. Pincus Popnecker was always quite a jerk, at least in the dozen or so Herbie comics I've read, but here we see that he really isn't concerned with Herbie's butterball shape at all. His disgust stems from Herbie's apparent laziness and weakness. Yet he's perfectly ready to accept that miniature alternate universe duplicate Herbie is a great guy. What a jerk. Herbie just shrugs resignedly, as if to say: "Well, our father/son comedic dynamic hinges on my father's inability to see my bravery, and my passive, patient acceptance of his scathing cruelty. Whatta ya gonna do? "

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Professor Flipdome's Screwy Machine!

Here’s a mere sample of the glorious insanity of HERBIE comics. Herbie was the creation of ACG editor Richard E. Hughes, writing under the pseudonym Shane O’Shea, and first appeared in Forbidden Worlds #73, December 1958. The plump lump went on to star in his own series and eventually took on a costumed identity, the Fat Fury. Costume or no, Herbie was one of the most omni-powered beings in comics history, meeting any and all challenges with an unflappable, deadpan cool and his bottomless arsenal of specialty lollipops. The stories were whimsical, madcap, and unabashedly silly, and this one is no exception. From giant menacing flowers, to strap-on bee butts, to tiny micro-world duplicates, this comic has more crazy ideas than a Grant Morrison clone farm, and all in nine pages. And yes, Professor Flipdome is a dangerous lunatic. And yes, Herbie's father was always that much of a prick. This story is from a Dark Horse Comics reprint in 1992, which also contained a new Herbie story by John Byrne. I was sorely tempted to reprint that, but this one is more the “real deal”. Maybe another time, then. Herbie comics aren’t currently available in reprints, but they should be - until that wonderful day, enjoy “Professor Flipdome’s Screwy Machine”:

"Professor Flipdome's Screwy Machine!"
Originally printed in Herbie #4, ACG
Script: Shane O'Shea
Art: Ogden Whitney
Story scanned from Herbie #1, Dark Horse Comics, 1992